Biogeochemistry of Estuarine Soft Soils

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According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global temperatures are likely to increase during the 21st century (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). For instance, the UK sea surface is expected to warm by up to 40 C by the end of the century (Jolivel et al., 2015). Global mean sea levels are also expected to rise to 74 cm, considering the amount of future carbon dioxide emissions (Hungate et al., 2009). This is why this paper seeks to identify how such changes will impact the biogeochemistry of the estuarine soft soils.

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Research project

This project will analyze how various processes triggered by climate change will impact the biogeochemistry of estuarine soft soils. These include; increased sea surface temperature, rise in sea level, storm surge, rainfall, and river flows (Rustad et al., 2007).

Research Aims

This research will identify the present state of the biogeochemistry of estuarine soft soils through a biogeochemistry sampling program design. It will measure soil texture, color, aggregation, bulk density, porosity, organic horizon mass and layer thickness, total C and nutrient concentrations (N, P, S), and many others in the present soil sample. It will then compare this present state to previous information on the biogeochemistry of estuarine soft soils in an attempt to highlight any changes that may have taken place. This will encourage the identification of the effects of climate change on these soils. The different consequences of climate change that will be considered include; sea surface temperature, rise in sea level, storm surge, rainfall, and river flows. The results that will be derived from the biogeochemistry sampling program design will be related to the estuarine soft soils. Any limitations to the research will be explored basing on the ideas derived from in situ, as well as the data from previous surveys.

Questions for research may include the following:

What is the difference in condition of the present soil sample and previous soil samples as identified from the collected surveys?

How has climate change impacted the biogeochemistry of estuarine soft soils?


Core Issues for investigation may include:

The drivers of biogeochemical cycles including; soil physical and chemical properties (Maher et al., 2007), soil temperature, and soil moisture (Hui & Luo, 2004). Here, soil texture, color, aggregation, bulk density, porosity, organic horizon mass and layer thickness, total C and nutrient concentrations (N, P, S), and many others will be analyzed (Sitch et al., 2007).

Other Related issues that may arise:

The soil air space and the development of hydrological flow paths (Melillo et al., 2002; Bonaglia et al., 2014).

Research methods may include:

A biogeochemistry sampling program design and a collection of previous surveys conducted on estuarine soil samples to help with the identification of the changes that may have taken place over the years.

Analysis and Evaluative methods may include:

A regression analysis will be used to identify the relationship between climate change and biogeochemistry of estuarine soft soils.


This research has the potential of creating awareness on the impacts that climate change may have on the estuarine soft soils. It has the capability of closing the knowledge gap which exists with regards to this subject, as well as between specialists. They will be able to provide explanations on how such effects are indirectly impacting human health (Xiaoli et al., 2010).


Bonaglia, S., Deutsch, B., Bartoli, M., Marchant, H., & Bruchert, V. (2014). Seasonal oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus benthic cycling along an impacted Baltic Sea estuary: regulation and spatial patterns. Biogeochemistry, 119(1-3), 139-160. doi:10.1007/s10533-014-9953-6

Hui, D., & Luo, Y. (2004). Evaluation of soil CO2 production and transport in Duke Forest using a process-based modeling approach. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 18:GB4029. doi:10.1029/2004GB002297

Hungate, B. A. et al (2009) Assessing the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on soil carbon: a comparison of four meta-analyses. Glob Change Biol 8(15):20202034.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007). Climate change 2007. IPCC, Geneva,

Jolivel, M., Allard, M., St-Onge, G., & Lian, O. (2015). Climate change and recent sedimentation in Nastapoka Sound, eastern coast of Hudson Bay. Canadian Journal Of Earth Sciences, 52(5), 322-337. doi:10.1139/cjes-2014-0132

Maher, A., Douglas, W. S., Yang, D., Jafari, F., & Schaefer, V. R. (2007). Cement Deep Soil Mixing (CDSM) for Solidification of Soft Estuarine Sediments. Marine Georesources & Geotechnology, 25(3/4), 221-235. doi:10.1080/10641190701699319

Melillo, J. M. et al. (2002). Soil warming and carbon-cycle feedbacks to the climate system. Science 298:21732176.

Rustad, L. E., Campbell, J. L., & Marion, G. M. et al. (2001). A meta-analysis of the response of soil respiration, net nitrogen mineralization, and aboveground plant growth to experimental ecosystem warming. Oecologia 126:543562.

Sitch, S., Cox, P. M., Collins, W. J., & Huntingford, C. (2007). Indirect radiative forcing of climate change through ozone effects on the land-carbon sink. Nature 448:791794.

Xiaoli, C., Yiqi, L., Qing, X., Guanghui, L., Quanfa, Z., Jiakuai, C., & Bo, L. (2010). Seasonal variation in CH4 emission and its 13C-isotopic signature from Spartina alterniflora and Scirpus mariqueter soils in an estuarine wetland. Plant & Soil, 327(1/2), 85-94. doi:10.1007/s11104-009-0033-y

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